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Grief, repentance and hope (3:1-66)
This poem is different in style from the previous two. The poet speaks as if he is the representative of all Judah, describing Judah’s sufferings as if they were his own. And those sufferings are God’s righteous judgment (3:1-3). He is like a starving man ready to die. Indeed, he feels as if he already dwells in the world of the dead (4-6). He is like a man chained and locked inside a stone prison from which there is no way out (7-9).
To the writer God seems like a wild animal that tears its prey to pieces, or like a hunter who has shot his prey with an arrow (10-12). Mocked and afflicted, the writer feels like one who has been punished by being forced to eat and drink things that are harmful to him (13-15). He is like a person whose face has been rubbed in the ground and whose joy for life has gone (16-18). He feels hurt and depressed, yet in all the darkness of his suffering he now sees a ray of hope (19-21).
God may punish, but the writer still trusts in him. He knows that God’s steadfast love does not change. It is constant and reliable (22-24). God disciplines and trains, but those who are patient will enjoy the fulness of his salvation (25-27). Humility and submission are important, even submission to the enemy that God sends as his agent of judgment (28-30).
The people of God can be assured that he does not reject them for ever and that he has no pleasure in punishing them. Nevertheless, punishment is necessary (31-33). But God does not approve of punishment that is unnecessarily cruel, ignores a person’s rights or perverts justice (34-36).
When people know that God is in control of all things, and confess that God’s judgment is just, they will bear his punishment patiently (37-39). The writer therefore urges the people of his shattered country to examine themselves, to recognize their sin, to acknowledge that the punishment they have received is just, and to turn to God and seek his forgiveness (40-42).
Speaking as if he is the whole nation of Judah, the writer acknowledges his sin. He confesses that it has been a barrier or cloud between him and God, preventing God from hearing his prayers for mercy. As a result he has been ruined and disgraced (43-45). He is filled with grief because of the cruelty and mockery he has suffered at the hands of his enemies (46-48). He weeps when he looks at the terrible suffering that has fallen upon the people of Jerusalem (49-51).
The writer feels like a bird that has been hunted or a person who has been thrown down a well to drown (52-54). But now that he is repentant, God hears his cries for help and assures him that he need not be afraid (55-57). He knows at last that God has saved him. At the same time he reminds God of the cruelty of those who have persecuted him (58-60), for they have heartlessly mocked and jeered the afflicted (61-63). He leaves the judgment of such people in God’s hands (64-66).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Lamentations 3". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27